First off, I want to make it clear that I’m not complaining. It’s the middle of October in my Denver, Colo., vegetable garden and there are still tomatoes ripening every day.
In all of my years gardening here, I can’t recall another gardening season like this one. Usually the weather turns frosty in September, and I’m madly picking green tomatoes before that first frost hits.
But this year, the weather has stayed warm enough to keep the tomato plants going strong.
I’ve used tomatoes in just about every recipe, put up quarts of tomatoes to use this winter and eaten handfuls of cherry tomatoes at almost every meal.
With about a quarter of a bushel of tomatoes begging to be used, I decided to make some homemade tomato sauce. I mixed together all of the different kinds of tomatoes I grew this summer, from big orange ones to small grape-sized, and ended up with a couple of quarts of the best tomato sauce on the planet.
It’s a simple process, but it does take a little bit of time, especially if the only thing you have on hand is an old-fashioned strainer. A food mill would be a big timesaver.
- Sort through the tomatoes and discard any that are too ripe or have bad spots. Don’t core, but remove stems.
- Wash and drain tomatoes; cut them into similar-sized pieces and place in a large, heavy-duty pot.
- Bring tomatoes to a boil and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Cool slightly and then press tomato pulp through a strainer (or food mill) to separate the tomato skins and seeds from the tomato juice. Discard skins and seeds or add to the compost pile.
- Return the juice to the pot and add about 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart of juice.
- Simmer gently, stirring often, until slightly thickened; the juice may reduce to about half of the original amount.
- Pour into clean jars. Process in a water bath or pressure canner. An alternative method is to let tomato sauce cool and place in the refrigerator to use within a day or two, or pour into containers to store in the freezer.
Use the sauce as you would any commercial tomato sauce, but everything you make with it is sure to taste better.